The 2020 Democratic Party Platform starts with these four words, “America is an idea.”
And therein lies the problem. These first few words set the context for everything wrong in the 80 pages that follow.
The words “America is an idea” shine a spotlight on the radical difference between our nation’s two dominant political parties. They highlight the primary distinction between the progressive and the conservative agenda. When you cut through all the smoke and mirrors, all the pandering, all the false promises and all the fake people, this one simple phrase from the Democratic platform summarizes it all.
Now, at first blush, you might say, “What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with “America is an idea?”
Here’s the problem. It is not.
Since its founding, our country has been much more than just an abstract thought or feeling. No, our nation has never been a mere emotion or desire. America is not just “an idea.” America is real.
America is a real country with a real Declaration, a real Constitution, real values and real precepts.
This is a real nation, with real citizens, real borders and real laws. We are a real people with real rights and real responsibilities.
We believe that life is real and that all human beings should have real liberty and real happiness.
We stand for real justice. We believe in real morality. We have witnessed real virtue and real sin.
We don’t ignore our real enemies or pretend there are no real threats.
We have a real Army, a real Navy, a real Air Force, a real Marines and a real Coast Guard, for a real reason.
We believe in real economics, real money, real history, real science and real truth.
We know there is a real God, and that removing Him from our real pledge has real consequences.
In a nutshell, conservatives know that America is an objective reality, while Democrats just told us they believe our country is little more than a subjective “idea,” their idea.
About 300 years ago, Edmund Burke wrote, “We are on the verge of Darkness. One push drives us in.” He was referring to the rise of the Jacobins in France and their elevation of abstract ideas over reality.
Burke saw the dangers of replacing the facts of human experience with the subjective theories of enlightenment arrogance. He knew that history — real history — had proven over and over again that when any people rise up and kill their traditions, that tyranny stands in the wings all too willing to rush in to fill the vacuum.
Burke predicted the rise of the “rule of the gang” and the butchery of the guillotine. He warned that the fluid “ideas” of Diderot and Rousseau would result in blood flowing in the streets.
Burke stood with Aristotle before him, and Chesterton and Voegelin to follow, in declaring that politics must be rooted in the firmness of natural law and the self-evident truths that are endowed to us by our Creator. He knew that the worst error progressives make is uprooting and destroying the old realities in their lust for their new ideas.
Burke warned of “radicals” and their “ideas;” people who believed that they were the smart ones and the intelligent few. He called these pretenders, “The leaders of the legislative clubs and coffee houses [who are] intoxicated with admiration at their own wisdom …”
Burke foresaw things such as the defunding of the police, the destruction of private businesses, the desecration of statues and the defamation of the church. He called this the “black and savage atrocity of mind.”
He warned that those who discredit all who have come before them, who retell history and paint a nation’s patriarchs as the source of all evil, are, in fact, the evil ones. He repeatedly said that tradition is something to honor, respect and preserve, not an obstacle to be removed.
In essence, Burke was a prophet. He warned of a time to come when feelings would trump facts and freedom would be sacrificed on the altar of feelings. He shouted out to his generation to never let any revolution claim to be about a malleable “idea” rather than an immutable reality and thankfully Jefferson, Washington, Franklin and Adams listened.
By the way, Burke also quoted Cicero, who said, “Tell me, how did you lose a republic as great as yours so quickly?”
If we buy the Democratic Party line that America is simply a progressive “idea” rather than a nation with enduring and objective definition, this is a question our children and grandchildren might be asking us for years to come.
No, America is just not an “idea.” America is much more. America is real.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery).